with  Christopher Moore

(Christopher Moore Interview, continued)

As an author, you do what you can to help out the independents, but you can't ignore the shear gorilla numbers of a Barnes and Nobles or a Borders. The same thing goes for Amazon and other online booksellers. 

I live in a rather remote area of California, so when I first discovered Amazon.com I was ecstatic, and I still buy a ton of books from them. I'm nearly forty miles from the nearest bookstore with any sort of selection, and for most so my research needs, they still have to order my books. So for me, as a reader, the web has been great. Likewise for my readers who can't find my books in their local stores. I was one of the first non-technical writers to include my e-mail address on a book jacket, and right from the beginning I got letters from people who couldn't find all of my books. With Amazon and the other web-sellers, I always know I can get a book into the hands of someone who wants to read it.

As for the publishing on demand: as a reader, I like the idea, as a writer, I'm not happy about it. Right now, if a book goes out of print, the author will get the rights back within six months and can sell them to someone who may be able to keep the book in print. With on-demand publishing, a book need never go out of print, but that also means that even if it's only selling one or two copies a year, the author can't get the rights back and place them in the hands of a publisher who can promote the book, re-release it, and perhaps make it even more successful in a second or third incarnation.

I know these issues are driving agents nuts right now. No one has really figured out good boilerplate contract language to protect their author's rights, so they have to reinvent the wheel with every deal. Contracts have to have language that anticipates technology that doesn't even exist yet.

As for e-books, as a reader and researcher I love them. I don't read fiction off of a screen. I don't like to, it bugs me, I can't get into the story. But for looking stuff up, I love e-text. You can do a word up subject search of the complete works of Shakespeare in about 30 seconds. That rocks!  I've used the texts available at the Gutenberg Project a lot in my work. Looking for quotes or whatever. A one point I needed to look something up in Rabalaise's Gargantua and Pantagreul; I downloaded the text, searched it, found what I needed, and moved on, all in about four minutes. That process would have

taken days through the library or a bookstore. I think e-texts are wonderful for students and researchers, but I'm still skeptical about reading fiction. I suppose if someone actually comes up with a comfortable to use reader, I'd go with one. For travel, it certainly would be easier to carry one paperback-sized reader and a ton of memory chips than a whole suitcase full of books.

Of course, copyright protection is another matter altogether. This is my living, and this is how many of your readers would like to make their living. You can't dilute the book market like you can the software industry. By that, I mean, if Microsoft loses, say, 10% of their sales to piracy in a year (and I'd guess it's probably higher than that) they will survive. They can still prosper. An average midlist author may only sell five to fifteen-thousand hardcovers total. To lose a large percentage of these sales would be devastating. And forgive the pun, but books have a longer "shelf-life" than software. I won't be releasing Coyote Blue 3.1 any time soon, or Bloodsucking Fiends 2000. Once you have the book, you have it. So unauthorized copying would be an issue. Then on the other hand, people can always get a book at the library, or borrow it from a friend.

FF: Can you give us any hints about when we can expect the next book, or is talking about that novel-in-progress just plain bad juju?

CM: Not so much bad juju--normally you can't shut me up about what I'm working on-- but this particular project could be pretty easily torpedoed by a bad B-movie rendition, so I'm under orders to stay pretty quiet about it. What I can tell you is that this next one will be my first novel written in first person, that it will have a historical setting, that I'm overwhelmed with the research it's required so far, and that it will most certainly piss people off more than anything I've written previously.

FF: Anything you'd like to add?

Sure, send more questions. As long as I'm answering these questions I have a great excuse for not writing.





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